For three months in 2010, Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramovic sat in a chair in a gallery at New York's Museum of Modern Art and directed her full, silent attention toward individual visitors seated across from her, seven hours a day, six days a week, without eating or drinking. Matthew Akers' invaluable film, named for the exhibition, documents the show's preparation and execution. Abramovic is now in her 60s, and her persona's harder edges, apparent in old footage, have softened. She's a striking and seductive figure, and the Hard Day's Night-esque stampedes into the exhibit each morning testify to her charisma. Throughout the 1970s, Abramovic collaborated with her partner, the West German performance artist known as Ulay. In their final, most epic work, The Lovers, they walked toward each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China over three months. They broke up afterward due to Ulay's infidelity and did not see each other again for 23 years, until shortly before the MOMA show's opening, their reunion filmed by Akers. Ulay is among the first to sit at the table across from Abramovic, and the moment they share, informed by their history, is moving. Other striking incidents involve an encounter with David Blaine, whose douchesmithery includes crunching and swallowing a chunk of his wineglass, and the re-creation of earlier Abramovic pieces, which inspire FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly to question whether or not this "Yugoslavian-born provocateur" can even be considered an artist.
The artist's implacable stare.
Opens Fri., Sept. 7 at SIFF Film Center. Not rated. 105 minutes.